Like most siblings, my brother and I had very different interests and likes. I still have trouble admitting I enjoy any Madonna songs because of his slavish preteen devotion to her. He, meanwhile, simply couldn’t stand horror films. He was totally unnerved by them. Something I found funny, at the time.
We had two farm kid friends, brothers, as well. One was exactly my age and the other was exactly my brother’s. We had grown up with them, but they had moved away sometime during our grade school years and, afterwards, we only saw them when they came to visit relatives on the holidays. The spring break of my junior year, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning opened and I was determined to go. The other brothers were, as well. So one evening, despite my younger sibling’s protests, we set out to the local mall, a half hour car ride away, to see it. My diminutive but fierce mother had to safe guard us in, past the protests of the concerned, middle aged ticket takers and through the emotional struggles of my baby bro, who was totally and completely distressed about what he was about to witness.
Of course, once inside, we others had a blast tormenting him – telling him to remove his hands from his eyes before the violent sequences had finished and egging on his tension during the more quiet scenes. Ultimately, three of us left the theater very happy. One did not.
My brother and I were very different from a lot of the kids that we grew up around. It was a small town where athleticism was highly praised and mechanical and factory work was the norm. Meanwhile, my brother was an artist who loved digging through fashion magazines to discover his latest inspirations and I had already had a season or two of summer stock under my belt and had attended a couple of fancy theater programs when school was out of session. The next morning, as I was bumming through the house, half watching soap operas as I piddled around in my bare feet, I discovered an open letter that my mother had started in a notebook. She had left it on the kitchen counter. Whether it was an accident or subconsciously purposeful, I’ve never determined. It was a journal entry (of sorts) to God. She was thanking him for our cinema outing the night before. She blessed him for allowing her boys to actually act normal for once (by hanging out with regular kids) and recounted how proud she was that we actually were, at least on some level, like other teenage guys. And…thanks!
Funny…It actually, it hurts me more writing this now, thirty years later, than when I discovered it then. Somehow, thankfully, at 17, I scoffed it off, realizing how ridiculous her missive was. Despite my uncaring frivolity the previous evening, I always was aware that we were cruelly scarring my brother through our actions. She was the one who forced him to attend the film despite his obvious despair, yet now she seemed to feel there was something almost holy in her intent. Psychologically, in retrospect, I’m sure she realized that we were gay and was simply try to forestall, in action and word, the troubling realities that she would have to face head on, in later years. But in that silly and shameful moment, she could breathe for a minute, believing that we were of the stereotypically sane and proud junior members of the small town status quo.
But, what she didn’t realize, and what I probably couldn’t have articulated fully at the time, was that I never wanted to be considered normal. I wanted to live in cities and know poets and playwrights and alt rockers. I wanted to act in plays and film and television. I wanted to be, in my own way, mythical and above the ordinary and the last thing I wanted to be like were these two very common friends of mine (who I planned to leave behind as soon as I could) – or anyone that I knew at the time, for that matter. And while my insecurities and self-doubts have been major stumbling blocks on more than one occasion – that is the life, to one degree or another, that I’ve led.
Which leads me back to Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. More than pure nostalgia, I love it because, unlike other slasher films of the day, its victims weren’t jock assholes or pretty socialites that you couldn’t wait to see get the crossbow. The film took place in a halfway house for kids and no one there was…say it together, now…normal.
Who can forget Debisue Voorhees’ giddy, uncontrollable laughter as the carefree Tina or Dominick Brasca’s sweet pout and eager energy as the eternally friendless, socially awkward Joey? For many others, this may be the Halloween III of the series with its fake Jason, but for me it features John Shepard’s method work as the tortured, barely sane Tommy and the brash hope provided by Shavar Ross’ young and practically abandoned Reggie. Nicely, the film is even anchored by a more sophisticated final girl, Melanie Kinnaman’s very effective and concerned counselor, Pam. Most significantly, though, the film features the beyond awesome, punkish Violet, arguably one of the series’ best remembered characters. She is enacted passionately by the divine Tiffany Helm, who even helped clothe the character Siouxsie-style and provided the iconic robot dance moves for her memorable death scene.
Yes, like me and so many other horror fans, this film features characters that weren’t of the straight laced vanguard and didn’t want to be. They, like us, were brilliant outsiders and I can’t imagine any misguided, sorrowful note from their mother’s ever bringing them down, as well. Hell, anyone with half (a stabbed out) brain knows only fake Jason could do that!
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!